Sunday, January 11, 2015


Hardcover, 2014. Collects 1988's X-FACTOR #27 - 32, X-FACTOR ANNUAL #3, UNCANNY X-MEN #228 - 238, UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #12, NEW MUTANTS #62 - 70, NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #4, and material from MARVEL AGE ANNUAL #4 and MARVEL FANFARE #40.

As noted in December's THE UNBOXING, I recently acquired Marvel's newly released X-MEN: INFERNO PROLOGUE hardcover volume. This book fills a long-present gap in Marvel's collections of the UNCANNY X-MEN series and its related titles. The full details are on my X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS page, but the short of is that, thanks to this book bringing us issues 228 - 238, we now have the entirety of UNCANNY X-MEN, issues 220 through 306, collected in oversize hardcover format (and issues 220 - 337 collected in some format or another, between oversize and standard size hardcovers and trade paperbacks!).

But that's not all -- INFERNO PROLOGUE also brings us X-FACTOR issues 27 - 32, NEW MUTANTS issues 62 - 70, plus a few assorted annuals. That means, for those keeping track, via previous books plus this one, we now have X-FACTOR 19 - 40 in oversize hardcover and NEW MUTANTS 55 - 73 in the same format (in fact, thanks again to various trade paperbacks and other collections, most notably the NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC series, every issue of that title is collected save for issues 74 - 85 -- not bad!).

So for completists, the issues contained in this book are greatly appreciated. But what about the quality of the material and the volume itself?

Well for the most part, it's hard to complain. Marvel figured out a long time ago how to do collected editions right, and they rarely disappoint in that arena. The issues are presented in what has been deemed by the powers-that-be to be the best chronological reading order, so we begin with some X-FACTOR installments, followed by a couple UNCANNY X-MENs, a large chunk of NEW MUTANTS, more UNCANNY, the three series' segments of the "Evolutionary War" annual crossover event, then we repeat the first cycle with more X-FACTOR, UNCANNY, and NEW MUTANTS in that order. I must admit that I've never read the X-FACTOR and NEW MUTANTS issues contained in this book, written by Louise Simonson and illustrated by Walter Simonson and Bret Blevins, respectively, but a cursory flip-through reveals some wonderful art by both men, which looks especially nice blown up to oversize proportions.

The UNCANNY X-MEN issues, on the other hand, I'm much more familiar with. Written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Marc Silvestri and Rick Leonardi, these stories feature the X-Men moving into their Australian Outback home and battling the Reavers, followed by a return engagement from classic X-villains the Brood and then the introduction of Genosha, one of the more important locales in the series' history. I've gone on record as not being a big fan of the "Outback Era", but nonetheless I'm happy to count these issues in my collection. Once again, the blown-up size serves Silvestri's and Leonardi's artwork extremely well. I recall that the original comics looked absolutely horrendous thanks to the printing processes of the time, so having them restored here is a treat.

Besides the three "Evolutionary War" annuals, the book also contains a number of bonus features including the newly-recolored cover artwork without any trade dress, some pages of original art at a reduced size, a Storm solo story from MARVEL FANFARE #40 and a preview of Wolverine's then-upcoming series from MARVEL AGE. We also have a "Mutant Report" column from MARVEL AGE #69, several house ads from the era, and the covers of previous collected editions which contained portions of this material. As I said, Marvel understands how to do a collected edition right. They painstakingly research every possible item for inclusion and squeeze as many of those scraps as they can into these books. These volumes set the standard by which all others should be judged.

If I had to name a single complaint about this book, it would simply be that there is, perhaps, just a bit too much material -- for me, anyway. I already own the EVOLUTIONARY WAR OMNIBUS, so the annuals contained herein are already in my collected edition library (though the Omnibus contained only the main story from these annuals, so this is the first time the backups have been collected, at least). Likewise, the original Genosha storyline already found its way into the X-TINCTION AGENDA hardcover a few years ago, serving a prologue to that crossover, so its inclusion here seems extraneous. But I fully understand that not everyone has those other two books, so the presence of these issues here doesn't exactly rankle me. But, for my own preference, I would have been just as happy to see them omitted in favor of the other books.

Otherwise, this is a great volume. It's perhaps overpriced at $125 MSRP for 824 pages -- a few years ago, such a book would most likely have listed for $75 to $100 -- but the paper is slick and glossy, the binding is sewn and allows the book to open flat to any page with minimal gutter loss, the reproduction is beautiful, and it's crammed with bonus content. INFERNO PROLOGUE is another quality offering from Marvel's collected editions department, and, if you can get past the sticker shock, it's a worthy addition to any X-Men library.

Available now at

Long out of print but well worth it if you can find them for a reasonable price:


  1. Like you, I remain impressed at how Marvel is at reprinting stuff. Even the Epic Collections have started to include some of the types of bonus material you mention here, which makes it all the easier for me to rationalize picking up reprints of stuff I already own in one format or another.

    And you're dead right about how great the art looks, too. I recently picked up the first Wolverine Epic collection, and even without it being blown up, just flipping through it I found myself more drawn to the art than I had been when I'd *just* read the issues a few weeks/months earlier for my X-amination posts.

    If the Epic collections do indeed make it this far, I'm especially excited to see what Leonardi's restored art from the Outback Era looks like.

    1. Yeah, I don't know what it is, but comics from the mid- to late eighties seem extremely shoddy in their printing and even their paper stock. I've heard about this "flexographic" process they used back then, but for some reason I thought it was earlier in the eighties.

      At any rate, the UNCANNY issues from the Outback Era have always looked terrible to me because of this. It's amazing what proper restoration and paper does for this stuff. It's like seeing it with new eyes, and I didn't even have to visit Mojo and Spiral to get them.

  2. I did not seem to get the response for this message. I just happened to check today, I think I checked a week ago. So just random, don't know what is going on. Anyways So many things I have always wanted to discuss you narrowed them down. (1.) Yeah of course I like sisnter and I think I mentioned before, inferno had awesome intentions but it was way to much at one time and it felt to cluttered. Mr. Sinister and the Marauders, mixed in with S'ym, N'astirh, power struggles then magik, goblin queen..havok being corrupted and confronting his brother. X-factor being mad that the X-Men played dead for so long, baby nathan being sacrificed,goblin queen vs jean, And then Sinister's whole story about Cyclops and the orphanage.....any one or two of the points would have been enough for a good, interesting story crossover but not 11 things at once. This was a lot even for claremount who also over writes when it comes to dialogue. I found all other claremount crossovers (of this era) to be far superior...fall of mutants, mutant massacre and extinction agenda...all of these have verious plot points...that drum their way down to suitable conclusions. But I feel like inferno story plots are all resolved but they are really all over the place. Like extinction agenda reads like a war epic...they go an invade a foreign country to rescue their younger is the x-men vs genosha. But inferno felt like it was a horror epic..then it became standard superheo x-men vs marauders vs x-factor..and then all this conspiracy orphanage/cyclops/clone/mr. sinister/origin stuff not to mention whole other inferno issues going on in excaliber and the new just wasn't focused enough for my liking. This was the first time I felt claremount did not pull off a crossover. I also find the art to be very rushed...especially for such a stunning artist like silvestri. I find this is his worst art in here and then the x-factor issue artist was even worse than silvestri. The Inferno crossover Probably had the worst art on x-books for the 80's. I personally like silvestri art more than john romita jr...but just not in this crossover. I think this was the only time silvestri did an x-men crossover pencils, so maybe he just was not ready for it.(2.) Well the Phalanx crossover..I agree with joe mad (he did a very good job and that is when he began to shine on uncanny) but the other artists on x-factor and regular x-men..not so much...there is nothing worse than looking at some real nice art like joe mad, finishing the issue and then seeing something so jarring in the next really brings out the difference between the lesser artist's short comings. Again this phalanx issue (x-factor, x-men) might have been the worst art (like inferno has the worst of the 80's) but this time phalanx had the worst art of the 1990's. Phalanx leads to a very terrific generation x #1 issue. Inferno I found it all bad including the mark silvestri (who was usually pretty good). Phalanx I liked joe mad...but joe mad art didn't save it for me..just too rushed story on very few issues. Douglas ramsey, warlock carmon hodge return and also out of no where is an invasion of the phalanx. It started out good though with the invasion of the mansion. It was another good plot idea that didn't pan out. I do like the all the other 90's crossovers from 1990-1995.Some of the best ones came from that period. Then in 96 onslaught was mediocre. 97 operation zero tolerance good art...very little bad except another rushed out forgettable story. I find zero tolerance to be worse than inferno and phalanx but had better art. I do agree that bachelos art of making emma frost look 14 years old was so bizzare and distracting lol. Inferno did have one or two issues that semi-tied with exacliber and was drawn by alan davis..I think. Those early exacliber inferno issues were for me are excellent...that was my favorite part of inferno but it was like an isolated mini story.It's the main story that didn't draw me in.

  3. (#3-4) Generation X and all the new characters as well as what happened to the x-men formula, or how can you save the bring up some very intriguing points, that I would like to discuss with you. In fact I find the new characters are tied to the sinking x-men formula. But that is a different conversation for another day. First let's finish up on the crossovers and artists, Let me know your favorite crossovers or least favorite. You know all the X-Crossovers but also add in god love man kills and dark phoniex into your list (eventhough they are not technically crossovers but they are still sort of milestone x-events). I'm curious about someone like you who has put so much thought when reading this stuff when you must have well constructed opinions. So yeah curious to know what you think. Do you have a page where you rate this stuff lol ?? You should put a voting/poll page to..might be interesting to see what some of your readers think.(I might also try to post this comment in your inferno review page, see if that does something..maybe I will start getting notifications)